Saturday, October 31, 2015

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD



WHY YES IT IS HALLOWEEN HERE IN THE HOOD
BUT THE BIG NEWS OF THE WEEK
IS THE 100 YEAR OLD ELM TREE
GETTING A TRIM





THE LITTLE MAN
CAME OVER
AND WE SPENT THE MORNING
WATCHING THE
TRIMMING


COMPLETE WITH A CERTIFIED TREE CLIMBER
WHO SOARED UP THROUGH
THE HEIGHTS WITH EASE


AND SEEMED TO HANG
IN MID AIR
WHILE BRANDISHING
A CHAIN SAW



I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED
WATCHING
AND OH YES---
THE TREE LOOKS GREAT TOO!


AFTER A LONG DROUGHT
IT RAINED HERE IN A BIG WAY!
I ONLY HAD TO SCRAPE 
THE BACKYARD OFF THE DRIVEWAY
THREE TIMES IN THE DOWNPOURS


THE DRY STATE OF TEXAS
UNLIKE MY HOME STATE OF LOUISIANA
HAS NO BAYOUS
TO ACCEPT THESE
HUGE DOWNPOURS



AND THESE PEOPLE- FROM THE HOOD NEXT DOOR
ARE ALL READY FOR HALLOWEEN
MR. BONES IS ALL SET TO GREET THE
1500 (last year's count) TRICK OR TREATERS
WHO FLOW THROUGH THEIR HOOD



WE HAVE SPENT THE WEEK
TRYING ON DISGUISES AND COSTUMES

AND GETTING READY FOR MY OWN SET 
OF TRICK OR TREATERS




THIS YEAR'S HALLOWEEN THEME
SEEMS TO BE SPIDERS




IT IS ENOUGH
TO GIVE THE STRONGEST
THE SCREAMING
ARACHNOPHOBIA!
(YES I ACTUALLY SAW IT)









MY SPECIAL HALLOWEEN
GIFT TO YOU



I WAS WARPED
GROWING UP WITH 
BROTHERS AND COUSINS


HAVE A FUN FILLED HALLOWEEN

STILL
LIVING LIFE LARGE
HERE IN THE HOOD!

Friday, October 30, 2015

BEYOND THE BLINK OF AN EYE

I talked about those "Blink of An Eye" moments in our lives here recently.  I will always have the memory of one of those unbelievable moments in my heart, but there is certainly always more than the moment to remember.

More than three years ago now, I received a text from one of my dear friends, Susan.  "Pray for Anna-Claire--she is critically ill and they are fighting to save her."  Anna-Claire was my precious friend, Stephanie's twenty-one year old daughter.  My immediate reaction was shock--and denial that this would not have a positive outcome--after all she was in the bloom of youth---still in college.  People that age do not have heart attacks and die!  Pray---pray---pray----and then I find myself pulled to the hospital where I sat with out large group of runners and continued to pray.  



After what seemed like an eternity--but probably was only a few hours, the waiting room full of friends and family receive the news that Anna-Claire has gone to be with Jesus.  NO!  This cannot be---we all sat in stunned silence--shaken to our very core.  In the blink of an eye---life was drastically altered-forever changed!  Our group has done a lot of living together---weathered all kinds of storms--the gentle breezes of great happiness and the tsunami's of great heartbreak--but none of us had lost a child-the worst of the worst.  




We sat and waited--hoping to wrap our friend and her sweet husband, Tommy in our arms of comfort, but Steph had other things on her mind.  Her daughter Jessica was in Houston, and knew Anna-Claire had suddenly become ill, but did not know the worst.  Stephanie was determined she was the one who must deliver this word--and be there to wrap her arms around the grief stricken sister.  Without thought for her own devastation, with no time to sink into the pit of despair,  she denied herself the comfort of all those who loved her and instead flew to her daughter's side to be the messenger. Where did she find the strength physically as well as emotionally to complete this task?  With no regard for her own all consuming devastation--she concentrated on her daughter and the way this news needed to be delivered.  Her first thought was not of herself, but how to comfort and console her sweet daughter in this moment of profound loss.  A picture of selfless love I shall never forget.




And what good purpose could this tragedy possibly have served?  How could God turn this moment of unthinkable horror into anything beautiful?  Perhaps in many ways, but one stands out boldly.  My friend taught us all a lesson in love that day.  She showed us how to put others first in the midst of our greatest personal tragedy.  She looked beyond her own shock and horror and thought of those also affected by this terrible loss.  Her concern for her husband and her daughter took precedence over her own suffering.  

Heaven gained a special angel that day---and though life was forever altered--it has moved on.  And my dear friend taught me a great lesson in putting others first with selfless love.

Just as Steph thought of Tommy and Jessica first, so does our Father think of us first.  He draws us into His arms of great care--He holds us when we have not the strength to move forward, and He counts our tears as they fall.    He is hurt when we are hurt--and He responds with His great love.  Surely if we as mortals are able to rise above self and think of our loved ones, He does so much more than the human mind can comprehend. One of the comments on the original post says it best -

"Everything changes in one . split . second. And life is never the same.

And He gives grace that you never knew you needed. And He doesn't leave your side when the bad and scary news comes again and again.


He remains the same, Wonderful Comforter. Where would we be without Jesus?"
 Linda Stoll

Indeed, where would we be without Jesus!
  
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” ~ Galatians 6:22,23



  

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BLESS YOU

I walk over most of the weekday mornings to help get "the boys" off to school.  We are fortunate that their school is half way between our homes and I only live a little over a mile from them.  Mom walks them to school most days, but I have the privilege of doing the walking when baby sister needs mom at home.  It brings back many wonderful memories of taking my own to school---always in a car--but the trip purpose was the same.  The thing that pleases me most is knowing I am leaving them with a blessing as they enter the threshold of their weekday home.  My words are the final words before they enter "The World" and it is important to choose them wisely.  As they cross over into their alternate universe, they take with them those final words of wisdom, comfort, and love.  It is a heady and important responsibility to issue that final blessing--the sending forth.  




One of The Dynamic Duo

The blessings we give to our loved ones are profound moments with life long consequences and effects.  I thought of all the times I was privileged to give those blessings--all the leavings--all the milestones--all those important steps in life-those "Big Days & Occasions"--as well as the everyday moments. Those words which in most instances were thrown out there with no thought or plan and never a glimmer of belief of the weight they carried.  How many missed chances have their been when I was too wrapped up in the busyness of the  world to give that blessing?  

The Word is filled with blessings being given.  Believe me when something is repeated over and over--it carries profound importance and God is being sure we understand.  I think of the stolen blessing Isaac gave Jacob, 


28 May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness-- an abundance of grain and new wine. 

29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed."

Of Esau's angst and anger over this all important blessing being taken from him.
I remember one of my favorite blessings-

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’


found in Numbers.

  Again and again--The Word testifies to blessings given by God to us and the blessings bestowed upon others by man. It is one of the most significant gifts we give-when we exercise the privilege of bestowing a blessing.

And at the end of the day---at the end of our time--we may be given the opportunity for one final blessing.  What words of wisdom, words of hope, words of love will you utter if given that chance?  If you knew in advance--could you prepare and deliver that final blessing?  OH--but man does not know the moment in time when he will be called---so our opportunity needs to be seized now---not soon--but now.  Issue each blessings as if it is your last--for truly you never know. And so I leave you today with this blessing-


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

THE SEASON OF DISCONTENT

There are those days I think, "I just can't.  I can't do this anymore."  My get up and go has got up and went and I sit in a heap in the midst of discontent.  Discontent with my life--at a loss for the next right thing--sitting by the side of the path--staring into the nothingness of despair and at a loss as to how to get going once again.  Habitually plodding through the routine of the day, in a daze as I move along in an auto-pilot- like trance --the scenery blurs as the days pass by.

Ashamed of my malcontent---I trod along wondering will this ever get better---knowing in the eyes of the world I am blessed beyond measure.  Thinking I can overcome this---it has to get better---remember the good---and tomorrow will surely come.  And when the morrow comes--and I look around--the scenery is the same as it was yesterday and my hopes are dashed---and once again I face a day of restless discontent.

The voice of reason from deep within--reminds me and prods me --pushes me along.  I get out my list--I read the words to inspire hope--and remember this season of discontent--will pass if I only hold on to these few principles of deep peace.

I.  Don't live in the past.
The past is gone--and there is nothing to gain by living in the state of regrets.  Take my history--learn from it---remember the good times--and pray to forget the bad times.  Don't dwell among the land of yesterdays--instead live in the contentment of the moment.

II. Cling to the promises.
His Word promises hope and a future.  Cling to the promises--know what His Word says about His plans for you.  Remind Him---pray His Words back to Him and expect His response.

III.  Treasure His presence.
He tells us He is always with us.  Trust His Word and believe in His presence.  Watch for Him--look for Him--call out for Him--there are signs all around confirming He is with us.  Be still and feel His Holy presence.

IV.  Know this too shall pass.
He allows our seasons of discontent.  He will also bring us out of them.  If all things work for good for those who are called according to His purpose, then He will use this season for our good as well.  He is a MIGHTY GOD!

So I will muddle through this season and allow Him to continue to mold me and make me ---shape me---direct me to His will---and the joy and contentment which evades me in this moment will again permeate my depths and give me peace.





I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Philippians 4:11

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BLINK OF AN EYE

I recently heard of a friend whose cancer has returned after being in remission for a period of time.  In the blink of an eye, their life was turned upside down.  All the well made plans will have to be put aside while they return to the onocologist and resume treatment.  All seemed so perfect---every post and notification from them was filled with great experiences, wonderful friends, and memory making trips.  And as they sat before their doctor, life took a new direction.

As I read their post, I was reminded of my sister in law, Carol.  Her life was forever changed with her diagnosis of breast cancer.  She had the surgery, she had the chemo, and she had the radiation.  And life finally returned to a routine of sorts---interrupted by doctor visits.  The fifth year out---the doctor found the cancer had returned--and with a vengeance.  In the blink of an eye, she began her final battle---to win more time--with the family she loved dearly.  With the doctor's utterance of those words, life took a final new direction.



How many of us have experienced those "Blink of an eye" moments?  The letter, the conference with the boss, the call from the police, the surprise diagnosis, a word from a friend, the discovery of betrayal, the collapse of the stock market-- and on and on.  Those occurrences--never expected--not even on the edge of our thoughts--which rock our world and forever alter the future we thought we knew.  And off life goes into uncharted--unfamiliar--completely unanticipated territory.

The question becomes---how do we react---how do we handle the sudden turn of events?  Carol fought with all her might---not willing to give in to the diagnosis---enduring unbelievable suffering---to buy more time--to stay with her family for as long as possible.    I have seen loved ones fired from jobs and vow to do whatever necessary to support their family.  I have watched fortunes disappear with the downward spiral of some man made gauge and those left reeling when all the paper wealth disappeared with a blink of an eye--slowly discover--life goes on--and their net worth in really not their true worth.  I have had the police calls, the word from friends, the letter, and the betrayal--only to discover the world kept on turning--while I sat reeling.  Slowly but surely---we all continue down the path of life--even when we have been given a sharp detour which was not on our map.

At that "Blink of an Eye" moment---what do we say to God? While others watch, how do they see us react to a God who allowed this sudden turn of events.   Do we scream and yell, do we turn and pout, do we become filled with doubt, do we question how He could allow this?  Do we allow Satan to whisper in our ear---do we listen to the concerned friends with "unasked for advice"---do we pour through self help books--do we sit before a therapist---do we continue to look for the silver bullet to change the course before us?  Are we able with faith---and in joy---to proclaim Who God is---what He promises---and allow Him to draw along side of us as we suffer?  When life takes that blink of an eye turn---do we remember who He is---and praise Him for His faithful presence and abiding grace?  When life sends those blink of an eye---are we able to keep our eyes upon Him?


But those who suffer, He delivers in their suffering;
He speaks to them in their affliction.
He is wooing you from the jaws of distress
Job 36:15-16

Monday, October 26, 2015

WOLF!

Do you remember the story, I told you here about my 2 year old grand and "hurting his feelings"?  The little stinker has adopted "you hurt my feelings" as his new mantra.  He seems to have picked up on the positive feedback his original proclamation drew and has expanded his hurt feelings declaration to anything which does not go his way.  Why he has even begun putting in a good word for his brother when he is being reprimanded by telling me, "You hurt HIS feelings!"  

Following a day filled with his tender feelings being hurt over any and every thing which did not have his desired outcome, I was over the top and beyond sympathetic when it came to "his feelings".  After a couple of days of hurt feelings bulletins, my retort became " I'LL SHOW YOU HURT FEELINGS!"- and then proceeded to tickle him until he collapsed in fits of giggles.   Like the little boy who cried wolf--he had played that card one to many times and my sympathy had grown thin--to non-existent.  




A sharp reminder of my prayer life.  I am quick to yell for help or plead "hurt feelings"---I've been put upon---when things have not gone my way.  God has graciously answered many of my prayers---thus leading me to cry "Wolf" over even the mundane.  Yes, I know, God wants to hear it all---but when my prayers cease to line up with His Word--His Will--I still cry, "Wolf" and sit and wonder WHY He has not given me what I keep pleading for over and over.  The idea that perhaps my desire does not line up with His perfect plan--never bubbles to the surface.  For SURELY---my plan is the best plan!

I know what is best for the two year old--and his attempts to sway me by repeatedly bringing up how hurt his feelings are over not getting his way never changes my course.  So it is with God, my whining about the fairness of it all, does nothing to alter His perfect plan--for my best. 

The two year old will learn to trust me--have faith in my judgement---know he can count on my love for him to always provide for his best.  There are days I wonder---will I EVER learn?  He has not given up though--He is still teaching me!


For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11
One Of My Favorites!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

WHO DO YOU LOOK LIKE?

Do you ever wonder who you look like?  Where did I get this big honker--why are my eyes so squinty---whose fault are these bird legs?  My two brothers and I have similarities---



Old photo--but it proves my point.  Younger brother looks more like the Gillespie side, while older brother and I look like the James side.  Somewhere in there is a lot of Momma in all of us.  So there is NO doubt where our looks come from and we certainly pass as siblings.





BEST PICTURE I COULD GET OF THE MOVING TARGETS

Then there are these 4 of the 6 grands.  I am not certain you would identify them as brothers and sisters if you put them in a large group.  Each one even has different shades of hair and different eye colors. Different body types, different heights, and hugely different personalities-- And yet--they have similarities---we know from whom they sprang.

We can all do things to ourselves to change the way we look.  My hair is a prime example---currently blonde I have been ever color in the book-from raven black to snowy white and all the spectrum in between.  I have learned if you live in Texas, you are expected to be blonde for some strange reason.  I go to my hair dresser and say, "I think it is a little too light--here is a picture of my natural color"  She mumbles a reply and I walk out 90 minutes later--blonde.  I have changed my facial features by buying a chin---I come from a long line of chin-less people.  Did you know you can buy a chin and have it inserted--TRUTH!  I have gone from the thinnest of thins to a lot more fluff.  I have changed my looks--and yet I am the same.

The Word tells us we are created in HIS image.  When we look around at mankind--when we gaze upon our fellow man--do we think--HE looks JUST like his FATHER?  If we are indeed created in His image--why is it we don't look anything like we suppose He looks?  In her book Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott quotes a priest, "You can safely assume you've created God in  your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do."  Thus the problem---we refuse to adhere to the Image of God--instead morphing that image into what best suits us-and that false image hates who we hate and loves who we love.  We allow Satan to mar our reflection of the image of God.

I have met a few people in my life--that I came away from their presence KNOWING I saw the reflection of Jesus when I looked into their eyes.  So perhaps the key to looking like Him is inside us--and not outside.  When another gazes into our eyes---do they see Jesus?  Sadly--in my case--probably not.  I have allowed the fallen world to blur my reflection of HIS image.  My own sinfulness and self-centered approach to life has turned my reflection into a long way from Godly.  BUT--I know there is hope---found through Jesus.  Everyday---I strive to know Him better and as I know Him---follow Him.  There is hope--and with His power---I will reflect His image of love and mercy.  My desire is "To Look More Like Him" with each passing day.  


And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
II Corinthians 3:18

Thursday, October 22, 2015

LIVING IN TRUTH

Some of my earliest memories---before the age of learning to read--are of being in bed and looking at comic books.  Momma was a firm believer in early bed times, but we were allowed to read---even if we couldn't read--we could take our comics to bed with us.  Fortunately we had a huge collection of comic books.  I looked at the pictures and made up the story as I went.




Fast forward--at warp speed---and my love for reading has continued.  One of my favorite genres is adventure stories.  Non-fiction adventure books almost always have pictures.  If you skip the verbiage, these hiking trips, mountain climbs, sailing trips, or any other form of physical adventures are one big party-with beautiful sights and memory making adventures.  Only when you read the words do you realize it was no party---it was hard work--often brutal conditions--and in general, a real pain.  We seldom take pictures of the trying--difficult times--we only want to immortalize the moments of beauty.


My last words on this subject, I promise, social media has lead us to believe most have beautiful lives--as evidenced by the pictures posted on the WWW. We look at the pictures and sigh and long for our lives to look like this.  Unfortunately, not all are writers and prefer to memorialize their lives by capturing the moment by picture.  They leave off the verbiage--the description of the moment and all the events surrounding getting to the moment.  The beauty of life is not captured in the well prepared and rehearsed still photo--but instead in the description leading to the hallmark moment.

I would bet money when you all saw my hiking trip pictures, you were amazed and envious.  The picture at the top of the mountain failed to capture the step by step moaning I did while getting up that mountain.  It also cannot possibly give you the sense of how I smelled after a few hours of dragging myself up that trail.  There is not enough deodorant in the world to mask that lovely aroma!  Fortunately the pictures I post are NOT scratch and smell.

If you saw us walking the boys to school any morning, you would smile and think what a beautiful family--how precious.  Yes--in that moment--you are correct.   What you did not see is the description of how this happened.  The two who were up before the chickens, the one who had to be bodily picked up and brought down the stairs still half asleep, the discussion of exactly what they might eat for breakfast and then the subsequent cajoling them to  eat their order, the struggle to get those teeth brushed and putting on shoes while they limply looked on.  The trial of getting them out the door is NOT always pretty!  The verbiage is always much more telling than the Kodak moment.  

All to say---take social media for what it is---the posting of the best of the best.  Truly a nano-second in the long hours of real life.  Smile and appreciate the offering, but remember the full story has not been told-and the messiness of life is the norm.  And in the messiness--real life is lived.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:21

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

EMBRACE THOSE CRAZIES!

For all of you who are in a state of denial concerning your mental illness diagnosis, it might be best if you turned the page and went on to your next blog---you will not be able to relate to what I have to say today.  No offense meant--and the state of denial can be a blissful place--so feel free to park yourself there permanently-but most of us live on the edge of crazy!  I took up residence in a state of confusion a LONG time ago and as my counselor friend informed be--our crazies grow with age.




We live in a world slap silly over acronyms--and the Land of Psychobabble may be the guiltiest of over use.  For most of my early years, all mental diagnosis were captured under one ailment--Crazy.  And when you went Crazy---you were pronounced to have had a break down.  This gave the resounding ring of a car which would not run after it quit running-so it needed to be worked on and fixed.  "Crazy" is not really a very lucrative diagnosis--SO--after the initial step of identifying and categorizing all the types of crazy--it was further refined to acronyms.  NOW they were on to something---the more letters---the crazier you were---and the more the treatment cost--DING DING!  

Included in my own colorful array of diagnosis is

OCD---obsessive compulsive disorder--now to clarify I am no Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets", but I have my moments.  Truly it is the rest of you people who are wrong---for there is CERTAINLY A PLACE for each and everything in our lives--and all is right with the world when things are in their place and done in the correct order.  AND what, might I ask is wrong with cleanliness--after all The Good Book tells us that it is next to Godliness.  Schedules help us keep things in the correct order and the correct order helps us stay on track--WHAT could be wrong with that!  I have used my OCD well over the years---no need for plates in a super clean house-you can eat off the floor--clothes stored by color, type, and frequency worn---spices in alphabetical order---pantry organized by food type--you get my drift---things are easily found when in the right order.  When I find myself edging too close to the land of crazy obsessive---I self inflict desensitization by living in messy until I am better.  If I find myself brushing my teeth after every snack, I only allow use of the toothbrush three times a day--best diet I have ever found!  SO yes, they would have you believe OCD is bad--but it is my old and dear friend which has served me well.

PTSD--Post Traumatic Stress Disorder--after a really difficult period in my life, I found I had entire blocks of time which I had no memory of.  I became concerned I was developing dementia--but my counselor friend explained I was suffering from PTSD.  As I looked through the symptoms, I discovered this was one of many of the disorder markers I had.  I finally reconciled myself this was a gift--not remembering was a blessing---disturbing and discombobulating, but when viewed from a pragmatic viewpoint--a blessing!  Who wants to remember a horrific nightmare?

Over my lifetime I have met others with varying diagnosis including-

MPD---multiple personality disorder---some of you may think this is near the edge of unreason, but I beg to differ.  I had a client during my professional career who claimed to have suffered from MPD.  As we talked, I began to see a pattern, the "Other" personalities were the bad-doers who had taken over her "Good" personalities without consent or her knowledge.  One of these "bad" persona's got up in the middle of the night and ate---LOTS OF FOOD!  It was not her fault if she had a weight problem--for she didn't even get to enjoy the over-indulgence done in the dark of the night.  Another of her personalities was not very nice to others--in fact--might even be called verbally abusive.  So if you are really mad at your best friend---let them have it--and claim you don't remember a thing--the other you did it!  I can see how this diagnosis has a beauty and charm of its own---a reason for all bad behavior!

Phobias---fear of leaving home, fear of snakes, fear of water, fear of strangers---any unreasonable fear which paralyzes the sufferer is a phobia.  I was inadvertently treated and desensitized from all my phobias by being raised with brothers.  IF YOU DARE--show fear--they will torment you for your entire life with the knowledge of what you fear.  The only thing worse was telling Momma you were afraid of the dark--the monster under the bed--whatever--she was a firm believer in helping you to conquer your fears by insisting you face them.

AND then there is the biggie---Depression--surely we all suffer at some point in our lives from depression---The Blues---as it was known during my early years.  I remember those who had to "Take To Their Bed"--for it was not understood during those times and no one knew what to do for it.  Depression in itself is not bad---it is when you can no longer function in a normal day to day world that it becomes a problem.  Drugs to treat depression are a huge business.  Our fast paced-highly competitive world would depress the staunchest personality.  My personal drug of choice to retard any signs of depression is exercise.  Get those good hormones going to run off those bad boys!

NOW---I am NOT making light of mental disorders---I am making light of my own diagnosis---and reminding us all---there is no shame in being a little crazy.  Here in the South, every family has their crazy and I am proud to be the senior martiarchal crazy of mine.  Why in fact--my crazy has proven to serve me well--be a tool to keep me from actually going over the edge.  Life has taught me---laugh---laugh---and laugh some more---even at yourself---things always look better with a little self deprecation and a good laugh at yourself!  Embrace those crazies and love yourself--it goes a long way in making the world seem right!


A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DISTORTED IMAGE

During my hiatus from Facebook for a few weeks, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It had not occurred to how defeating it was to read all of your posts and wonder--"Why not me?".  I came back from that break with a new perspective on social media--and a pledge to be a truth teller--not a fantasy spinner.

Take for instance this picture I posted recently-




I put some really cute comment about hiding under trundle along with it and you all commented with my sought after response of how cute those boys are --and if not that--at least a "Like".  What I didn't post a picture of was the condition of the room house after these two spent the night with me.  Suffice it to say---nothing was in its place and this picture was made immediately after they used the two beds as spring boards.  All I wanted you to see---though---was my precious grands--not the mess surrounding enjoying those boys for a night.

We all are guilty of posting only the best moments---the times we look the best---those hallmark/family album scenes--the successes--the all-star moments.  I don't really think it is intentional--for truthfully I  don't think you would be very interested in my messy moments.  Those times when I am sitting on the couch--sans makeup--messy hair day--old work out clothes---chomping on Cheetos and scarfing down a DP.  I try to not look in the mirror during those times--much less immortalize the memory on the WWW.  I want you to see the "Yard of the Month", but not the neglected garden pictures.  If I don't really want to remember those times, why would I put it out for you to know what my life really looks like?  It can be messy----very messy.




When glancing at the picture above, you have visions of sweet boys who love their Lulu and relish giving her hugs and sitting in her lap.  There is no indication of their willful disobedience at times--the struggle we have getting them to shut their eyes at night--the half eaten lollipop left on the best table--the spilled drink on the rug---and my harsh tone to get them in line.  It all looks wonderful through the lens of the camera---the 24/7 video might cloud this illusion of perfection I have so carefully crafted.




The problem for all of us arises when we glance at those photos and posts and forget the picture may not be as it seems.  During those years my children were growing up, I always laughed when we got to church that I had almost lost my religion getting them there.  We walked in the perfect picture of a family of God---our hair all done, our clothes clean and pressed, our shoes shined, and our faces smiling with a Bible in our hands--while the truth was it would have been easier to herd cats in a room full of rocking chairs.  Tempers had been lost, tears had fallen and many times clothes had to be changed at the last second---in an effort to have the appearance of perfection.  It was NOT perfect--FAR from it.

So today when I look at your kodak moment posts, I remember there are REAL people behind those smiles.  Real people--who live real lives--and have real disappointments along with the pictorial display of perfection.  Life is NOT perfect---we all act not so nice at times---our children "have their moments"---and right before the picture was snapped--one of those in the picture might have snapped.  Looks can be deceiving but life is revealing---always take the picture with a grain of salt and remember there is more to life than what is revealed by the camera lens.  



We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
II Corinthians 10:12

Monday, October 19, 2015

SONLIGHT

I told you all of my escape from the hood.  I escaped the hot fall temperatures here in Texas and caught a breath of cool mountain air while viewing the wonderful sight of the changing of the aspens.



Aspen trees are an amazing creation.  They live in clonal colonies which began from one single seedling.  The tree sends out root suckers which sprout and begin other trees.  So when you see a grove of aspens--they are all connected by their root system.  The life of the trees is 40-150 years, but amazingly the root system can be thousands of years old.  As the trees die from old age, the root system sends out new suckers to grow the next generation of trees.  These ancient woodlands have root systems deep within the earth--deep enough to escape the heat of forest fires.  When the colony's trees are destroyed by a forest fire, the root system sends out new suckers and the colony continues to live through the new growth.




The trees are sought after in the cooler regions of our country since they are fast growing and self reforesting.  They are sometimes harvested and used for match sticks, making paper, or as the interior wood of saunas.  

The one thing the grove cannot tolerate is the lack of sunlight.  New shoots do not stand a chance in an old established colony when the canopy prevents the sunlight from reaching the new growth.  

As I reread the facts of the aspen colonies, I was reminded of mankind.  God created us from a single man, and we are replaced by our young as we age.  Protected by God's provision we are a community with many talents and uses--all created by the hand of the Great Creator.

The one thing essential for eternal life is the Sonlight of our Creator.  The Sonlight assures a life well lived while amongst the colony and more important a life eternal once we fall to the ground.  Sunlight is essential for the aspens and Sonlight is essential for mankind--without it life becomes bleak and we wither and die.



 Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 8:12

Sunday, October 18, 2015

GOOD TO ME

I put all my hope
 on the truth of your promise

I steady my heart
on the ground of your goodness

When I am bowed down with sorrow
I will lift up your name

And the fox is in the vineyard
Will not steal my joy








BLESSED SABBATH,
DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, October 17, 2015

MEANWHILE-ESCAPE FROM THE HOOD

My sweet daughter was a member of the wedding party for her college roommate this month.  When talking over how to make this happen, since the wedding was in Vail, CO (I KNOW TOUGH PROBLEM!), I came up with the creative solution of me going along.  Princess Lucy cannot be far from the source of food in her life and I was willing to sacrifice and be the nanny for the weekend---WIN WIN in my eyes!

SO--off we fly to Colorado in October---ASPEN CHANGING SEASON!



While these old roomies partied, Lucy & I walked and walked looking at the breath-taking sight of the aspens in the mountains.


It was a green and golden sea all the way up to the top of the tree line.


LONG - lean white barked poles capped with crowns of gold.


I have always wanted to see this sight and was so blessed to have my dream come true.


The village was kept swept clean of the falling leaves--really a shame since they make a beautiful carpet.


And to cap it off---as we left-we saw the first light covering of snow on the mountain tops.


The village of Vail was really a beautiful-well planned quaint burrough on the side of the mountain.


The town of Aspen had always been my favorite in the mountains, but it has been replaced with this golden nugget.  Not as big--mostly pedestrian streets--the perfect size.  I walked from the Ford Park and Amphitheater named for Gerald and Betty Ford who claimed this as their own.


To the other side of the village--admiring the last of the summer blooms as we went.  We went up and down every street-countless times.


OH and while we were admiring the splendor of the scenery--
there was a wedding going on-

With all the roomies there to celebrate!


Living life large---Away From The Hood!

Friday, October 16, 2015

GAME CHANGER

My daddy died just after I turned 14.  A man who was bigger than life-in my eyes---yet as all men are-he was a man with feet of clay.  As I recently listened to my brother's oral history done by the Bar Association here, it caused me to pause and think of the impact the loss of our father had on our lives.  It brought to mind the complicated relationship we had with my mother, which was intensified with the loss of our daddy.  I have hashed and rehashed all of this many times--so after a few turns around the mind track--I gave it a rest.




Fast forward to receiving this article from a dear friend today.  As I read through these profound words, I found myself once again thinking over the loss of a parent and how it affects the rest of your life.  While making these circles, I came to the conclusion that in many ways during the years of daddy's struggle with alcohol and his terminal illness which came on the cusp of his sobriety, momma left us emotionally.  With the weight of raising three children thrust upon her, she survived by becoming emotionally numb.  She went to work and performed well--the care of the home was left to the three of us.  Leaving lists and orders everyday of what we were expected to do to keep the house running, she came home every night exhausted-depressed--overwhelmed--and withdrew to the privacy of her bedroom--where she tried to regroup and refuel for the next day of the same.  And the next day--only brought more next days---and all to be faced alone.  So in some ways, we became orphans of a sort--left to our own devises--in some ways raising ourselves.  I never had curfews, never was asked about homework, never had many rules beyond keep the house clean and food in the pantry--was never questioned about school.  Whether she took it for granted that we would take care of our business or if she simply could not take on one more task--we had lost both parents in some ways when daddy died. 

I listened with great sadness when friends talked of family celebrations, dinners around the family table, and their normal family lives.  How I longed to be normal.  There was nothing normal about our family life--though from the outside it all appeared great---it was dysfunction at its finest on the inside.  When I finally reached adulthood and had a stable family of my own---I DAILY endeavored to find normal---and prayed my children would have that Mayberry Normal I so always wanted.  The great American dream of 2.3 kids, a house, two cars, dinner on the table, clean clothes in the closet, a neat and tidy house and two parents looking over your shoulder became my Utopia.

Fast forward---with God's provision and grace, we all survived and in the world's eyes have been successful.  She was proud of us--and bless her heart--she did the best she could under very difficult circumstances.  The loss of daddy and momma's withdrawal though had a lasting and profound effect on each of us.  

I often tell others, "When you loose you parents,  no matter the age, you become orphans."  A piece of who you are is removed and you are left with a gaping hole.  It is life altering and a permanent change of the world you know.  Good parent--bad parent---their loss is a game changer in the game of life.  The loss of a parent at a young age is especially a deep and profound influence upon the person you become.

There is redemption---there is a way to reconcile today with the past---there is a Great Counselor who can heal all hurts and pain.  Jesus is always the answer--the answer to all those intense and deep moments in time when life is changed--HE IS THE SAME!  Yesterday--today--tomorrow---Jesus never changes.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8